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[UDK] Gears of War Inspired Environment - Modular

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Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9







Hey Everyone,

I've been wanting to do a Gears of War inspired environment for a long time now. I'm always inspired when I pull up my gears inspiration folder and seeing all the work that the team at epic has put into the art style and direction of the game. I'm looking to incorporate a lot of modularity in the scene based off what I've learned by going over Kevin Johnstone's forum posts and also his Modular Environment Design power point.

I'll be trying to improve my workflow by:

- Working on the grid and trying to make sure everything will be able to snap into the right places when I do bring everything into UDK
- Using Texture space wisely by incorporating "grooves" in the high poly meshes where I can break the mesh and add variations to the existing prop
- Making the high poly in a way that I can make multiple variations of the low poly counterpart
- Using more Zbrush in my workflow once I finish as much as I can in 3Ds max (Cracks, rough stonework, etc)

For the Scene, I'll be following European Baroque Architecture and doing my best to GOW the living crap out of it. For reference I'll be using the same Interior structure and design of the Palazzo Madama in Turin Italy. I have two photography books that have great high resolution photos of everything within the interior of this buildings. This is just a picture I grabbed off google to give you guys a feel for what I'm trying to achieve.

I have a long way to go and hopefully I can pull this off to the point of having something presentable when I attend GDC this year.

It would mean so much to get feedback and critiques from you guys so lets hear them!

To start here are my wip shots of what I have so far:

Unfortunately the damn grid dosen't show up great when I use grabviewport but between each groove it spans 64 units across so my snapping of the low poly variations will work




The first two types of window wall variations I'm going to have. Between the pillars it runs 256 units across. Starting from the bottom every 256 units up I make a groove in the high poly. This way when I do go about making the low poly I can project straight on a square surface and use as much texture space as possible.




  • TheRealFroman
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    TheRealFroman polycounter lvl 8
    Very nice work so far! You certainly have achieved a look very similar to the one in Gear of War. In order to get that "destroyed beauty" look from the game you can of course take these in ZBrush and do a bunch of work there too. Anyway very interesting start will look forward to seeing more stuff! ^^
  • TrevorJ
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    TrevorJ polycounter lvl 9
    very nice, awesome modeling, edges could possibly be too sharp for baking but maybe not. it looks great regardless.
  • Jet_Pilot
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    Jet_Pilot polycounter lvl 10
    very nice and clean! can you show some wires before the turbo smooth?
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    TheRealFroman - Thanks for the comments! Definitely going to bring each piece into Zbrush and to get that specific look. Just going through all the pieces in max first so I can make sure everything will snap proper.

    TrevorJ - Thanks! Hopefully my edges are soft enough. If not I'll just be going back and softening them up a bit.

    Jet_Pilot - For sure I can post up wires. Anything specific you want to see?
  • danjohncox
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    danjohncox polycounter lvl 7
    Get some of this stuff in already! Not everything needs to start highpoly only. Bake a couple things out. You'll find your process might be off on some pieces already. But if you test it now you only fix 4 things instead of 20.

    Highpolys are looking good though! Keep it up!!
  • Stormfreek
    Rawr some amazing high poly work here dude, as said above you should maybe do a rough blockout? You may already have done one but this is looking real good dude! Can't wait to see how this turns out!
  • BlvdNights
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    BlvdNights polycounter lvl 8
  • Envart
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    Envart polycounter lvl 6
    This is looking cool!
  • CreativeHD
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    CreativeHD polycounter lvl 6
    Looking really cool!
  • MeshModeler
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    MeshModeler polycounter lvl 8
    i too would like to see wireframes :)
  • line726
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    line726 polycounter lvl 7
    looking forward for more awesome work.But could u also try to put more organic shape into your design. Like flower , vines . To break the hard shape.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Hey Guys!

    Hopefully these wire will do for those asking. If you want to see something specific just ask away and I'll do my best.

    Again, Thanks for all the comments and critiques!


  • Gannon
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    Gannon greentooth
    Definitely screams Gears of War, great job. Looking forward to your textures :D
  • Jetta89
    Awsome. Just Awsome work.
  • Jetta89
    When you talk about grid spacing, could you please elaborate on that and explain how it all works? The grid spacing and making sure objects are the correct size in max so they can be brought into UDK has always confused me. If anyone can explain to me would be awsome.
  • Imasho
    Lovely stuff there spot on for Gears style. Keep em coming.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Gannon - Thanks! All in good time.

    Jetta89 - Thankyou! All is explained in Kevin Johnstone's power point on "Modular Environment Design - Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the grid". You can find it on his website under the help tab and its a really good read and it helps to understand the grid. You can also browse his post history and read up on his responses to similar methods.

    Imasho - Thanks and will do!
  • _Kratos_
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    _Kratos_ polycounter lvl 6
    Man! Thumbs up...this is looking great! Awesome work so far!
  • leleuxart
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    leleuxart polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the wires! I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this
  • Logithx
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    Logithx polycounter lvl 5
    Interesting to see people make ornate structures in 3ds Max. Gotta start doing that more myself. Nice work.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Working on one of the relief's that I'll be placing around the interior. Don't think I'm finished with this yet, not too sure about a few things. Most likely going to work on the border more with a fresh mind tomorrow.

  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Also here are some wires

  • Luxap
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    Luxap polycounter lvl 6
    Very nice concepts and models!
    Love the style gears of war has and how you pull that through here!

    Love to see more of this!
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Update on the the relief. Changed up the head dress and restarted the borders. I think I like where its at but I'm going to move onto another piece and maybe I'll get some inspiration to come back to this piece. Moving onto the door wall and then straight to testing to see how everything is working out on the udk side.


    Comments and critiques are very welcome!
  • Mr Smo
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    Mr Smo polycounter lvl 13
    Thanks for showing wires, saved :)!
  • SaferDan
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    SaferDan polycounter lvl 11
    Thanks so much for posting wires dude! Awesome to see! Can you talk more about how you did like the swirly bits? and the beige curved bits?

    Any insight would be great!
  • shinobix
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    shinobix polycounter lvl 14
    dope! Nice high poly skills!
  • MeshModeler
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    MeshModeler polycounter lvl 8
    can you give a breakdown on how you do your swirly bits, im assuming your extruding along splines but i could be wrong..
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Luxap - Thanks for the comments! More to come

    Mr Smo - You're welcome and thanks for stopping by!

    shinobix - Thanks!

    SaferDan & MeshModeler - Won't go to in depth right now and I'll make a proper breakdown when I do get time but here is a screenshot of the modifiers I use and how it generally works. I noticed now after fiddling with this technique is that you don't have to turbosmooth before the ffd's and pathdeform. Just have enough geo that it can conform around the spline you make and then you can turbosmooth. The shape on the far left is the shape that I use to follow the pathdeform. I generally start with a helix spline and work it in the shape I need. Pathdeform gets the primitive shape of a volute. The ffd is added before the pathdeform so you can change that width of certain sections on the path. You can notice that in the wider areas of the paths.

  • coresplendor
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    coresplendor polycounter lvl 4
    Awesome work! It definitely has that 'gears of war' feel. Keep us updated!
  • Makkon
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    Makkon interpolator
    Subscribing to this one!
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Got a door up and running. Design is based off the "Gates of Paradise" Doors on the Baptistry of Saint John. Some of the inner details are based on another door on the same building and of course I added some GoW details and my own thoughts of a door handle. I like the state its in now and depending on some inspiration later maybe I'll come back to it and work on it some more. Not too sure if I'm only going to UV half of it and mirror it over on the low poly or fully UV it and add some distinct details in Zbrush. For the relief I worked more on the back layers trying to add some depth. Again if I get some crazy idea, I might come back to it and update it some more.

    Crits and comments are welcome!



  • danjohncox
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    danjohncox polycounter lvl 7
    great work paul! Super neat idea for the swirly bits! Another possibility is using a loft for that as you can control tapering in the object through a curve which is super cool and requires fewer modifiers. And since it stays as a spline it can go as far as you want. But I never thought of doing it like that. Just make you current tube shape and turn it into a path shape and use loft (compound objects) to get this result. Clever!
  • radm0bile
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    radm0bile polycounter lvl 9
    really liking these hi polys so far!
  • Dolmen
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    Dolmen polycounter lvl 6
    Your work is amazing.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    danjohncox - Thanks Dan! You're going to have to show me exactly how to do that one time. I'm giving it a try but I'm not to sure what my end product is supposed to look like or the control I'm supposed to get =P

    radm0bile - Thankyou for the kind words! More to come.

    Dolmen - Thanks!

    Been testing out the modularity on the guard rails. Made up some basic lowpolys and gave the good old pathdeform a try. A bit sketchy at the beginning but once I figured out how it generally works for this process it was smooth sailing. I managed to get a bunch of pieces ready and snapping to 8 units. Going to try these for the other pieces and post my progress. Here are the examples of some of the modularity I managed to get. Got some large and small arcs, and some angled pieces that drop down 8 units every 64 units across. If I got this right I should be able to get some stairs using Kevin Johnstone's method aswell. After getting some more pieces ready I'm going to move them into the udk to get a decent blockout.

    Oh and of course this was all possible by going over his Modularity lecture. Many thanks Kevin! (hoping he see this!)

  • PandaBear
    I know the inspiration is GoW, but are you concepting these designs on your own because it look very well done? I love how there is a lot of detail yet it's not to busy or distracting.
  • Higuy
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    Higuy polycounter lvl 8
    Fantastic looking work so far, Gears of War is a beautiful game and you definitely got the style going.

    When you get a chance, can we see a wireframe of the door? Thanks :)
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    PandaBear - I'm working from 2 high resolution photography books by Massimo Listri and a Visual dictionary of Architecture to make sure I'm following forms and shapes relevant to those in European Baroque buildings. I didn't want to start this project half hazardously so I went out to the book store and made sure to grab as many reference books as I found fitting. For the details, it depends really, I try to look at as many gears references from Paul Svoboda's and Kevin Johnstone's highpoly work and try to incorporate that into my own. Sometimes I add too much detail and I step back and take a look then go back and take out a few details. Same thing goes for adding to little detail. You can slowly see me add detail in the relief wip from page 1 to 2.

    The way I went about each piece was taking references from the books and trying to gears of war the crap out of it by either adding metal details (clamps, gears, metal ornaments) or by changing a concrete slab into more of a cold chunk of metal. Also I go about the metal to make sure it looks like it was bolted there and permanent in a way.

    These 2 photography books in detail are:

    Palazzi Italiani - Massimo Listri - http://www.massimolistri.com/en/books/615/

    Tuscany - Massimo Listri - http://www.massimolistri.com/en/books/370/

    Oh and the Visual Dictionary of Architecture helps me aswell - [ame="http://www.amazon.ca/Visual-Dictionary-Architecture-Francis-Ching/dp/0470648856"]A Visual Dictionary of Architecture: Francis D. K. Ching: 9780470648858: Books - Amazon.ca[/ame]

    I hope that explains how I go about each piece. If not, just tell me and I'll try my best!

    Higuy - Thank you so much! No problem, here are some wires without the turbosmooth.

  • bcottage
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    bcottage polycounter lvl 9
    I feel like this is my post in a few years time....i have been planning on doing something exactly like this for a while now but im stuck up with uni work.

    Really inspirational man love it. What material setup have you got going? i absolutely love it
  • RobeOmega
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    RobeOmega polycounter lvl 7
  • tehrobster2
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    tehrobster2 polycounter lvl 11
    Really nice dude!
  • paulsvoboda
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    paulsvoboda polycounter lvl 12
    This is coming along really nicely! You've got some really beautiful High Poly models that really nail the style, and your presentation is fantastic.
    I personally love the window piece; nice balance of classical forms mixed with some Gearsy type pieces.
    It would be nice to see how these pieces transition in editor and how the scene reads as a whole. I think some very clean, flat textures should help de contrast some of the busyness in the models. A common problem that happens with this sort of style is that you are already mimicking the detail intense architecture that's present in your reference, while adding number of new materials which can lead to extremely busy scenes (which I've definitely been a culprit of!), and it will be interesting to see how you solve that.
    Great stuff so far though, looking forward to seeing more.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    bcottage - Thanks man! It's a bunch of standard materials with different spec/gloss values set up in max. Each have its own colour based on the look im going for. Screenshot is a max viewport grab using the max script "Grabviewport2"

    Robeomega - Thanks and more to come!

    tehrobster2 - Thankyou!

    paulsvoboda - OMG its you! Thank you so much for the kind words Paul! Yea as I've been making the blockout the past couple of days and making sure I get the right snaps and all I've been really thinking of the textures and how I'm going to go about them. Definitely going to keep it simple as you said because of the details and making sure when I do bring them into zbrush to not go wild on the cracks and alphas. Going subtle on mostly everything.

    For the detail bit I've been struggling to keep it together and trying to find a sweet spot between the two types of architecture. It's coming along (at least I think) and I've been posting on polycount just to get some feedback to keep everything balanced. More will be coming throughout the month and next before GDC so it would be great if you stop by once and awhile and throw in your 2 cents! Your work is so inspirational and one of the reasons I'm doing a Gears of War scene.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    Blockout & Ceiling Tiles!

    Going for some ceiling tiles in the scene. Took heavy inspiration from two references. One being "The Golden staircase" in Venice where I like the different sized tiles and how they were placed so its not a generic 2x2 tile running side by side across the length of the ceiling . Second inspiration came from the ceiling in the "Salon of Charles VIII" in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Firenze where each of the tiles had an inset and it created some cool depth to each tile. For the detail in each tile I tried to give some balance between the 4. Top left tile is more of the intricate tile to be placed sparingly to not overcrowd the ceiling with detail. Top Right tile is more of the GoW metal tile (Thinking I might take out the metal grid in behind the gear) which doesn't have much detail so I can place them much more and it won't crowd. Bottom tiles are different sizes and barely have any detail so I can break up the 2x2 tiles repeating over and over.


    Here are some screen grabs of my initial blockout of the scene. Since the scene is pretty modular I think it can incorporate a outside terrace on both sides of the building. Depending on how far I get with the scene the outside might be scraped to fully finish the interior 100%. I'll have the outside still to help the scene have some depth from the inside out but I wont put all my effort in it till I'm satisfied with the interior.





    Next on my list I have to do alot of trim work to hide alot of the open spots in the scene. The great thing is I figured out how to reuse a lot of my low poly by being very careful with making my high poly and making sure it'll snap properly.

    Again comments and critiques are very welcome. If you have any questions please ask away and I'll do my best to be informative!
  • MooseCommander
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    MooseCommander Polycount Sponsor
    Would you mind sharing your material / light set up for your high poly renders? They look beautiful and I am curious how you're getting such clean results.

    All in all, you've really captured the GoW art style. This stuff is just awesome. I can't wait to see where you take it.
  • AkiRa
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    AkiRa polycounter lvl 6
    @MooseCommander: It seems he is using the 3DS Max 2014 viewport with different materials for the high polies. Just a guess though....

    Holy crap...you're really killin this! Absolutley amazing and inspiring stuff! This will look super awesome in the end!
    Thank you also for sharing wires and your workflow! So educational!
    Nothing to crit as well!
    Really keen to see this progressing! :)
  • A-N-P
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    A-N-P polycounter lvl 6

    The presentation of those high poly models is really nice.

    I'm looking forward to seeing you beat these pieces up :D

    Great work.
  • Ahniketos
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    Ahniketos polycounter lvl 9
    MooseCommander - Thankyou for the comments! Here is the setup I use with max. Akira is right, its in the max 2014 view port. If you you follow these settings and fiddle around with them you can get the results you want. These are the settings I general tend to use but it depends on how big the mesh is that I'm rendering. It will look fuzzy at first but don't move the view port and it will fully load and render on screen. Its just takes about 5 seconds to sharpen up. Test it out!

    To get higher resolution shots I use the max script "Grabviewport 2" and I get a good high res shot of the view port. I don't do anything to it in Photoshop except resize it down to a forum friendly size. Hope this helps!


    AkiRa - Yup its just a viewport grab with just different standard materials. Nothing fancy. Also, thank you for the kind words! More to come

    A-N-P - Thankyou! Yup I'm also looking forward to the zbrush phase of the project. Also abit scared!
  • LaurentiuN
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    LaurentiuN interpolator
    ugly stuff!! very bad:( just kiddin man...this is mindblowing art, keep up the SUPER great job :>.
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